UA Cross Country Seeks NCAA Berth at NCAA West Regional

Nov. 13, 2002

Up Next: The University of Arizona's men's and women's cross country teams will travel to Palo Alto, Calif. on Saturday, Nov. 16 for the NCAA West Regional. Stanford University will play host to the meet at the Stanford Golf Course. The women's 6K will begin at 10 a.m. PT, followed by the men's 10K at 11 a.m. PT.

Who's Going?: The Wildcats will be taking five women and seven men to the meet this weekend. Running for the UA women will be Jen Ford, Adrienne Goeller, Michi Hirakawa-Wong, Lilli Shoen and Robin Tierney. The Arizona men will be represented by Mark Anderson, Eric Bohn, Kevin Engelhardt, Wade Juntunen, Josh Ludwig, Matt McInvale and Craig Pansing. The men's team will face several teams ranked in the latest MONDO 30 Poll, including No. 1 Stanford, No. 5 Oregon and No. 22 Arizona State. The women's team will also face ranked teams from the FinishLynx Top 30 Poll, such as No. 2 Stanford, No. 17 Arizona State and No. 21 Washington.

Fast Forward: The Wildcats will need to pull a huge upset in order to earn a berth to the NCAA Championships by finishing first or second this weekend at the NCAA West Regional. The top two teams advance to the NCAA Championships with an automatic bid, while the rest of the field is determined by the NCAA's awarding of at-large bids. Junior Mark Anderson is the leading candidate to earn an individual berth for the Wildcats. If the teams have any qualifiers, the NCAA Championships will be held on Monday, Nov. 25 in Terre Haute, Ind. at Indiana State University.

Coach Li's Corner: 'For the women, we are running only five ladies this week. The goal for the ladies is to gain experience by using a new tactic. We have talked about going out a little bit faster and trying to be competitive from the early stages of the race.

'The men's team will run a 10K race, which is longer than any of the other races we have run during the season.I feel the longer race will be an advantage to some of our athletes. The team goal for the men is to get everyone to run a good race on the same day.

'If all of our athletes run well in the race, we should see a significant improvement in our team standings. Mark Anderson will aim to qualify for the National Championships as an individual.'

2002 Season OutlookThe 2002 Cross Country season is the dawn of a new era for the University of Arizona Wildcats. The men's and women's teams head into the season with a new and fresh look. The biggest addition to the 2002 version of the Wildcat cross country teams is that of new head coach James Li. Li comes to the Wildcats from Washington State University, where he coached for eight years between cross country and track and field. The new leadership of Coach Li is sure to keep the great running tradition at Arizona alive and well.

This year's women's cross country team will have quite a different look from last year's squad. Nine of the twelve team members are true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. 'We are going through a major transition with a group of very young women. It is going to be a year to gain experience and to start a new training system, while making an effort to carry on with our tradition here at Arizona,' commented Coach Li.

The young team is expected to be led by junior Beth Hoge, who ran as a solid No. 2 runner last year for the Wildcats. Hoge played an important role in helping the team to a fourth-place finish at the 2001 NCAA Championships. Along with Hoge, senior Nicole Gurnicz will be an integral part of the women's squad. Gurnicz helped the Wildcats out a lot last year being one of the top seven runners. Hoge and Gurnicz will be followed by a lot of talented and young freshmen.

On the men's side, the Wildcats return a few more members of last year's squad than the women. The transition is the same for the Arizona men, but some of the team cohesiveness is already there. 'The fundamentals we are facing is with a new coach and a new system. We have a group of athletes who are really talented, but are still very young and somewhat inexperienced,' explained Coach Li.

The team will be led by junior Mark Anderson and senior Kyle Goklish. Both were members of the team that competed in last year's NCAA Championships. The Wildcats also have high hopes in Eric Bohn, Josh Ludwig, Wade Juntunen and Matt McInvale. According to Coach Li, if everyone steps up to meet the challenge, this team could perform quite well this season.

As the 2002 cross country season dawns on the Wildcats, one of the major goals will be to get everyone some valid experience in collegiate cross country and to perform the best of everyone's ability. Although this is considered a transition year for the Wildcats, they will show the perserverance and dedication that is attributed to the UA tradition.

Follow this Fellow: Junior Mark Anderson has been the backbone to the UA men's cross country team this far. Anderson has led the Wildcats in every meet to date. Leadership is nothing new to the Naval R.O.T.C. member, as it is a part of his daily routine. Anderson has been a consistent leader for the Wildcats since he joined the team as a freshman in 2000.

Anderson has been a consistent force for the UA men so far in the 2002 season. At the Aztec Invitational, he was responsible for breaking up a sweep of the top five places by the then-ranked No. 5 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. Anderson placed fifth in that meet with a time of 25:46. He had another strong performance in the team's second meet of the year at the Roy Griak Invitational. Anderson was the only runner on the men's team to place in the top 100 runners. He finished 54th with a time of 25:10.8. He had one of his most impressive showings at the ASU Invitational where he placed second overall in 24:17. He trailed the leader by only three seconds. He was 66th at the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind. He finished with a time of 25:07.3. Anderson led the team at the Pac-10 Championships for the fifth consecutive meet. He placed 14th overall in a time o 24:21 on the 8,000-meter course. With the NCAA West Regional quickly approaching, Anderson has turned his attention to qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Anderson will need to be one of the top-20 individual finishers to qualify for the NCAA Championships later this month.

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